Dog Aggression: How to Recognize It and Prevent It

Dogs are gregarious creatures who like the attention of other people and pets. However, there are occasions when dogs can become aggressive, even to those they know and love. There can be many different reasons for dog aggression, but some common causes include:

  • Fear
  • Territoriality
  • Dominance
  • Pain
  • Frustration

If your dog is showing signs of aggression, it’s important to take action before the situation escalates. In this article, we will discuss the signs of dog aggression and what you can do to help your furry friend feel better.

Are There Different Types of Dog Aggression?

Are There Different Types of Dog Aggression

There are three basic types of dog aggression that you should be aware of.

Play-Related Aggression

Play-related aggression is when a dog puts up with rough handling, but they growl or attempt to bite if they are touched in certain areas, such as their paws. This aggression is usually motivated by fear or pain.

 Fear-Related Aggression

Fear-related aggression can increase when the person or pet who causes the fear is present, even if they are out of sight. It typically occurs in response to things like thunderstorms and other loud noises. These dogs may also snap at people who come too close to them while they eat, sleep, drink or chew on something valuable to them (like a chew toy or bone).

Dominance-Related Aggression

Dominance-related aggression is often directed to strangers and occurs frequently when a dog is trying to gain dominance over another animal or human. It can also be directed toward family members if they are not seen as the dominant person in the household.

This type of aggression often causes severe injuries to those it’s directed toward, since these dogs will attack and may continue attacking until they win and become the dominant individual.

Normal Behaviors That Can Seem Aggressive

Normal Behaviors That Can Seem Aggressive

When you’re talking about social behaviors among humans, we usually don’t consider certain things to be signs of aggression unless we feel threatened by them or see someone getting hurt. For example, pushing past others in order to get where you need to go doesn’t mean that someone wants to start a fight.

They might just be in a hurry to get somewhere, so they take the shortest route possible. However, this could seem like an aggressive act if you are easily annoyed or if someone is already angry at you for some reason.

A dog’s social behaviors involve certain postures and can signal that they’re trying to tell another animal or human something important. A rigid physique with a lot of energy might indicate that your dog wants to play. If you stroke them while they remain this way, it may help them calm down and become more playful than ever before.

However, there are times when an elevated tail position doesn’t indicate happiness – rather, it’s signaling aggression toward other dogs or people. Standing tall with weight on the back legs, an elevated tail, and teeth exposed is a clear sign of aggression.

Common Causes of Dog Aggression

Common Causes of Dog Aggression

Unstable temperaments are common in dogs that are younger than two years old.

These are some of the most prevalent reasons for dog aggressiveness worldwide. Remember that they might differ based on where you live, how you’ve treated your pet over time, and a variety of other things. Even genetic predispositions to certain behaviors can cause dogs to show signs of aggression when they’re young.



Territoriality is when a dog becomes aggressive if they perceive anything to be a threat. They may see someone walking by your house or even stopping outside for any reason as an intrusion on their “turf.”

In some cases, dogs can become protective in situations where they don’t feel their owners are able to protect themselves. In addition, they may see children or adults who aren’t family members as threats if they get too close.

Fear-Related Aggression

Fear-related aggression is often caused by a lack of socialization early in life – especially when it comes to being around people and other animals. If a dog sees something new every day during the time when they’re developing socially, this allows them to learn that not everything is a threat.

However, if their environment doesn’t change much over several months or years, your pet may have trouble accepting new things later on due to fear-based aggression.

Pain and Injuries

Pain and Injuries

Pain and medical issues can cause dogs to act in unpredictable ways. If you think your pet may be in pain, take them to the vet immediately so they can get help for any issues that are affecting their behavior.

Poor Training

Poor Training

Poor training is another common cause of aggression in dogs who are less than two years old. If you’ve encouraged these behaviors or even allowed them to go on without stopping them, they may become aggressive when other people try to tell them “no.” Remember that correction-based training takes time and effort, so it’s important to have a well-rounded plan before you begin working with your dog.

Aggressive Breeds

Aggressive Breeds

Some breeds are more prone to aggression than others, including schnauzers, German shepherds, pit bull terriers, and Doberman pinschers. It’s also worth noting that female dogs that haven’t gone through heat may be more aggressive than those who have.

If you’re not sure why your dog is acting this way, talk to a vet or animal behaviorist immediately. They can help you figure out what’s going on with them and give you the information you need to handle the situation before it gets worse.

If You Suspect Your Dog May Show Signs of Aggression

If You Suspect Your Dog May Show Signs of Aggression

First, tell people around you to avoid getting close to your pet if they see any signs of aggression. Being left alone for at least twenty minutes can also help calm most dogs down so they are no longer feeling threatened by whatever stimulus caused them to act in an aggressive manner in the first place.

Second, be prepared to physically block your dog’s access to whatever caused them to act this way. Whether it’s another animal, person, or even a certain toy, you’ll likely need to put something in their way so they can’t get close and cause further damage.

Third, if anyone is injured during the process of dog aggression, be prepared for legal repercussions. No matter what kind of emotional distress your pet may be suffering from due to physical pain or fear-related issues, the law still sees such actions as wrong and will penalize you accordingly.

Fourth, don’t allow aggressive dogs around children – especially those who haven’t been taught how to stay safe around dogs at an early age. If your dog hurts a child by accident (even if it’s simply knocking them over or getting too close), you could be facing at least two lawsuits in addition to your pet losing their home.

Finally, don’t just assume that your dog will start acting in this manner again in the future. Some dogs may become aggressive when they’re feeling threatened because of something that happened recently, but if you take appropriate action and address the root cause of the issue, they should return to normal within a few days.

However, never force people – especially children – to interact with your dog without properly training them first so they know how to act when around pets. Your dog’s behavior is ultimately your responsibility.

Final Words

Dog aggression can be a scary thing to witness. It’s important to know how to recognize it and what to do about it if your dog starts acting aggressively. Behavior modification, which requires time and patience, is the best method to cope with an aggressive dog. If you think your dog may be showing signs of aggression, please consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist who can help you get your pup back on the right track.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q. What should you do if your dog is aggressive?

Ans: If your dog is aggressive for no apparent reason, take them to the vet immediately in order to rule out medical causes. If after the visit, it appears that they are healthy, then you should seek help from either a qualified animal behaviorist or trainer.

Q. Is it possible to treat an aggressive dog?

Ans: Yes, dog aggression can be treated. A qualified trainer or behaviorist will need to teach you how to handle the situation in a way that doesn’t allow your pet to become even more aggressive or violent. This is a long process that requires time and patience from both of you, but it’s possible if done correctly.

Q. Why does my dog attack certain dogs but not others?

Ans: There are several reasons why dogs may act in an aggressive manner toward certain dogs but not others. It’s often related to their breed, their early socialization with other animals, and the actions of the owner who feeds into this behavior.

Q. Is there a medication for violent dogs?

Ans: In some cases, your vet may prescribe a mild sedative in order to help calm your dog down. However, this is the last resort and it’s important to note that medications alone won’t solve the issue – you’ll need the help of a qualified trainer or behaviorist who can show you how to properly calm an aggressive dog.

Q. What should you do if an aggressive dog approaches you?

Ans: If you ever find yourself face-to-face with an aggressive dog, do not look them in the eyes. Instead, turn your entire body sideways slightly so that you’re not directly facing them. Don’t run or scream because this could trigger their predatory instincts and force them to attack you. Avoid direct eye contact because dogs interpret that as a threat of dominance which can spark aggressive behavior.

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